Strategic significance of Spain regional elections

Spain’s regional elections in May will shape the political landscape for the general elections six months from now.

On May 28, Spaniards will vote to choose more than 8,000 local council members and 12 regional governments.

Only six months remain before Spain must choose a new national government. Polls indicate that the May 28 elections could result in either a left- or right-wing coalition. Neither of the two conventional parties is anticipated to gain enough support to create a majority government in Spain.

Instead, to take control, they will need to rely on the backing of minor parties, such as separatist parties and far-right groups, Euronews explains.

Socialists / Separatists or Conservative / Far-right coalition?

The results of the regional elections will indicate if Spain’s minority Socialist government will remain in power or if the conservative People’s Party will form a coalition with the far-right VOX.

Only 12 of the 17 autonomous regions will conduct elections for their regional governments. These will take place in 2024.

The upcoming regional results help evaluate the voters’ attitudes and trends of the various parties as the Spanish election draws near. The outcomes of these regional elections will, without a doubt, impact the national elections.

The two main parties, the right-wing PP and the left-wing PSOE, controlled Spanish politics until 2015. However, the days of absolute majorities have long since passed due to the formation and success of new parties, first the far-right VOX party and then initially the left-wing Podemos and centre-right Ciudadanos.

Since 2015, Ciudadanos’ support has declined, and the party is presently fighting for political relevance and survival after losing 47 of its 57 seats in the general election in November 2019.

Political instability increased due to the influx of new parties; Spain went through four elections in four years, leading to the formation of the nation’s first nationwide coalition since 1939.

The Basque separatists

The left collaborates with contentious separatist organizations to approve significant budgets under the coalition. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s minority government had to cooperate with smaller parties, notably Basque and Catalan separatists, which enraged the opposition and some politicians within his party.

One of the local parties that supported Sánchez’s budget was EH Bildu. It is considered the successor to Batasuna, which was outlawed in 2003 for being the political arm of the terrorist organization ETA, responsible for at least 853 deaths during its four-decade violent fight for an independent Basque country.

After EH Bildu unveiled its suggested list of candidates, cooperating with these groupings unexpectedly took an early centre-stage position in the regional elections. They include 44 former ETA members who have been found guilty; seven of them were found guilty of murder.

Finally, the seven candidates convicted of murder will not run, according to EH Bildu, who also maintains that the other candidates should be allowed to run in a free democracy.

The far-right VOX

PP refuses to clarify whether it would join a coalition with the far-right VOX in the general election in December while also warning of a left-wing alliance that relies on separatists.

Polls indicate that PP and VOX may need to create a coalition with one another in the future at the regional and national levels, even though the two parties already work together in Castille-León.

When VOX suggested that abortion facilities should be required to show women pictures of their foetuses and let them hear their heartbeat before an abortion, the idea sparked outrage in January.

It also generated controversy in 2020 when its chairman, Santiago Abascal, claimed that Pedro Sánchez led the worst administration in 80 years, which included Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. 

Even though there are still just under two weeks until the election, the parties are trying to find ways to convince more voters.

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